You’ve done your research on keeping your child safe in the car, and on the road. You shopped for the safest car when you started a family. You read up on car seats for kids and figured out which one worked best for you and your family. You even took your car and car seat to a seat-checking station to let an expert check and approve of your handiwork.
But did you know there are other dangers in and around your vehicle that could seriously harm or even kill your child?
We’ve identified six common dangers that even the most careful parents can overlook, and some tips on how to avoid them:
You live by your daily routine and it helps you get things done. Be extra careful, though, if you have to change any part of that routine. This is more likely to happen when you, your spouse/partner, or caregiver who helps with your children, forgets that your child is in the back seat.
Disaster Happens Quickly
At other times, you are on your way home and realize you need to stop in at the store and pick up one or two things for dinner. So, you leave your child unattended, thinking, "I'll just run into the store for a minute," which is illegal in many States. Even cool temperatures in the 60s can cause the temperature to rise well above 110 degrees Fahrenheit inside your car. The inside temperature can rise almost 20 degrees within the first 10 minutes.
A back over incident typically occurs when a car coming out of a driveway
or parking space backs over a child.
Children can hurt themselves with power windows. Many kids are injured when a window closes on their finger, wrist, or hand. Some kids have been strangled by power windows.
Never leave your children alone in a vehicle for any reason.
Teach your children not to play with window switches.
Teach your children not to stand on passenger door arm rests.
Properly restrain your children in car seats or seat belts to prevent them from accidentally activating power windows and sunroofs.
Look and make sure your kids' hands, feet, and head, are clear of windows before raising the windows.
Never leave the key in the ignition or in the "on" or "accessory" position when you walk away from your car.
If available, activate the power window lock switch so that your children cannot play with the windows.
What You Need To Know, Now.
All new vehicles will have "pull to close" switches, which require you to pull up on them to close the window. Older vehicles may have window switches that a child can accidentally step or put weight on, easily causing a window to close.
Some vehicles have power windows that automatically reverse when an object (such as your child's arm or neck) is in the path of a closing window. Check both the individual vehicle rating pages on www.safercar.gov and your owner's manual to see if a vehicle is equipped with this safety technology.
Seat Belt Entanglement
When is a child ready for the adult seat belt? The decision point for transitioning your child out of a booster seat and into a seat belt usually comes when the child is between 8 to 12 years old: Keep your children in booster seats until they outgrow the size limits of the booster seats or are big enough to fit properly in seat belts.
Fitting child correctly in a seat belt:
For a child to properly fit a seat belt, your child ;
- Be tall enough to sit without slouching
- Be able to keep his or her back against the vehicle seat
- Be able to keep his or her knees naturally bent over the seats edge
- Be able to keep his or her feet flat on the floor
The lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach
The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest, and not cross the neck or face
Never let a child put the shoulder belt under the arm or behind the backs, because it could cause severe injuries in a crash
Keep your child in the back seat because it is safer there
Passenger Van Safety
Passenger vans handle very differently from smaller passenger vehicles because they are typically longer, higher, and wider. They require additional reliance on the side mirrors for changing lanes, more space, additional braking distances, and have a higher risk of crashes and rollovers if not properly driven and maintained. These vans are often used by various groups and organizations
What’s the Concern - Higher Rate of Rollover
NHTSA research shows there’s a greater risk of rollover due to:
- Inexperienced drivers
- Improperly sized and/or inflated tires
- Incorrectly loaded cargo and passengers that affect center of gravity
- Driver should be well trained and experienced.
- Rest well. Fatigue can affect driving and response time.
- Inspect the vehicle before every trip, especially the tires.
- Vehicle weight should never exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.
- Ensure all passengers are buckled up and side mirrors adjusted.
- Replace old tires. Check the vehicle owner’s manual for correct size.
- Safety is First.
Teenage drivers are twice as likely as adult drivers to be in a fatal crash. Despite a significant decline in driver fatalities of 15- to 20-year-olds between 2001 and 2010, young drivers – particularly 16- to 17-year-olds – are significantly over-represented in fatal crashes.
Our research tells us that immaturity and inexperience are primary factors contributing to these deadly crashes. Both lead to high-risk behavior behind the wheel: driving at nighttime, driving after drinking any amount of alcohol, and driving distracted by teenage passengers and electronic devices.
To address these problems, all States and the District of Columbia have enacted graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws to give young drivers more time to learn the complex skills required to operate a vehicle under less risky circumstances.
While driver education classes can teach road rules and safe driving practices, they’re only part of a GDL program designed to ease teens onto the roadway by controlling their exposure to progressively more difficult driving experiences.
GDL laws vary from State to State, but all GDL programs consist of three stages, identified by the type of license, provisions, and restrictions. Novice drivers 15 to 18 years old must demonstrate responsible driving behavior during each stage of licensing before advancing to the next level.
- Minimum duration
- Required supervised driving hours
Intermediate (Provisional) License
- Minimum age
- Nighttime driving restriction
- Passenger restriction (except for family, unless noted)
||1 a.m. - 5 a.m.
||First 6 mos.–no more than 1 <19; thereafter–no more than 3 <19